By  on April 15, 1994

NEW YORK -- When Estee Lauder first created its Maximum Cover Lightweight Makeup, the company felt it would serve the needs of a narrow audience: women who wanted to conceal serious blemishes, such as scars from acne or plastic surgery or skin discolorations.

Now the niche has dramatically expanded.

"At our sales meeting a few weeks ago, we were told that it was a great makeup for any woman who wanted a more complete yet lightweight coverage," said Muriel Gonzalez, senior vice president of marketing for Estee Lauder USA. "Many members of our force said they would wear it themselves. They also thought that many other Lauder customers would appreciate the makeup's fuller coverage and light formulation.

"When three or four hundred supercritical women in the field tell you something, you listen," she said.

As a result, Lauder has increased its initial sales projections by 40 percent. The new item will be on the counter in May, Gonzalez said.

While the company will not discuss sales or advertising figures, industry sources are estimating that Maximum Cover will have a wholesale volume of $5 million in the first year.

For now, however, Lauder is planning to target the bulk of its advertising and promotional efforts at the medical community.

Industry sources estimated the company will spend $1 million to $1.5 million on advertising and promotion in the first year. Advertisements will appear in medical journals, beginning in June. About 50,000 1/4-oz. samples will be distributed to doctor's offices and handed out at four medical conventions throughout the year, Gonzalez said.

The company will sample an additional 50,000 tubes at store counters.

Lauder is also trying a promotional tool that has not been used for its foundation business. According to Gonzalez, the company will promote Maximum Cover through "hundreds of thousands" of store bill inserts.

Maximum Cover will be available in six traditional foundation shades, as well as two color correctors as spot concealers -- green and yellow.

Green was created to neutralize redness in the skin, while the yellow was meant to disguise blue or purplish discolorations. Each of the 1-oz. tubes will have a suggested retail price of $25.The company claims that Maximum Cover won't fade, flake or cake -- problems that often arise with traditional fuller coverage foundations.

The new product is also billed as perspiration proof and waterproof as well as non-acnegenic and fragrance free, while being extremely lightweight and easy to apply. The formula is enriched with vitamins and enhanced by an SPF 10. According to the company, it has been tested by dermatologists, opthamologists and facial surgeons.

"We feel that when you want to be a leader in the category, which we do, sometimes you have to fill small niches so you can satisfy all of your customers' needs," said Robin Burns, president and chief executive of Estee Lauder USA. "But Maximum Cover has taken on a life of its own. It has much broader implications than we first thought."

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